Striving to be the people's president
New DSU president Jamie Arron
Katherine Wooler - May 3, 2012
Incoming DSU president Jamie Arron is ready to talk about the upcoming school year and he plans to keep the conversation rolling.
Mr. Arron will spend much of the next month starting to build relationships across Dalhousie’s three campuses as well as in the community at large. He says his top priority is “making sure all students know what’s going on and that we’re working smoothly as an organization.”
Hiring a full-time marketing coordinator for the DSU will be the first step toward better student outreach. Mr. Arron also plans to ease the transition from outgoing to incoming executive by spending time with each of the other tenants in the SUB including organizations such as NSPRIG, CKDU, and the Career Services Centre.
Demystifying university politics
As last year’s VP of student life, Mr. Arron began his quest to increase awareness of the DSU among the student body by setting up the chalkboard wall on the main floor of the SUB.
“Sometimes the DSU can be perceived as being a bureaucratic organization,” says Mr. Arron, adding that he will use the hands-on experience of his former DSU position to infuse some fun into the union’s day-to-day operations and make the organization more accessible to students.
“Many students wander into the SUB to get a coffee but never go up to the second floor to see what the DSU is all about.”
Mr. Arron is also keen to ensure that students know how Dal works behind the scenes. The Markham, Ontario, native wants to make administrative structures—such as the Dalhousie Senate—understandable for everyone.
He also encourages students to make their voices heard to the DSU executive, especially by participating in lobby groups such as ANSSA (Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations), the provincial lobby group for tuition issues.
The incoming president will do his part for tuition advocacy by creating partnerships with community groups that have an interest in Halifax’s student population.
Beginning in September, Mr. Arron will commence town hall-style sessions where any and all students can provide input and ideas. He also wants to create more forums for academic discussion on campus by hosting events similar to TEDx and Brains for Change.
“We’re in an educational institution creating opportunities for interdisciplinary learning,” says Mr. Arron, who has just completed a degree in International Development Studies and will be taking part-time courses throughout his presidency.
One opportunity for discussion (and festivities) in the next year will be the DSU’s 150th anniversary.
“We are using [the event] to celebrate our accomplishments and think about where we’re headed,” he explains.
With an eye toward the future, the DSU will address the pertinent issue of elections policies, following the appeals that Mr. Arron and incoming VP Academic and External Aaron Beale had to make before assuming their positions. The executive hopes to adjust the policies to better accommodate the use of modern campaigning techniques such as social media.
After being temporarily disqualified due to campaigning fines, Mr. Arron regained the presidency for which 58.3 per cent of voters had elected him. Despite the stressful situation, he maintained a positive relationship with fellow candidate Sarah Bouchard.
“Sarah and I have stayed close colleagues and have grown as friends throughout the election mayhem and appeals process,” he says. “Either way the Judicial Board ruled, we both knew the student body would be in good hands.”
A harmonious union
The transition to the new DSU executive began on April 23, and the incoming members officially began their terms on May 1. Mr. Arron is excited to work with what he believes to be a diverse and dynamic group of people, all of who will be kicking off their professional relationship by skydiving together.
The bond that Mr. Arron hopes to create with his fellow executives reflects the overall atmosphere that he is promoting on campus.
“It’s about how to make that close-knit community feel into a real experience for people,” he says.
Aside from skydiving, Mr. Arron also gets a thrill from surfing, being creative and encouraging youth involvement in the community. The founder of his own non-profit organization called Mavericks for Social Change, he would love to write a novel, make a documentary and live in a house by the ocean.